D Smith writes leaders for The Information Daily and Council News Monitor. After a lifetime in Fleet Street he now divides his time between homes in France and the north-west of England. He enjoys drinking, eating, sleeping and poking fun. His autobiography A Dog's Life is unaccountably out of print.@theleaderspeaks
The LLEP put forward an ambitious proposal for the Leicester and Leicestershire area totalling over £144 million, for a number of projects that would boost economic growth.
The £25.87 million allocated to the LLEP will be invested in three projects prioritised by the partnership:In total, £392 million has been allocated to the wider Midlands area, after each Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) submitted a bid to Government in 2016.
£12.87million for the development of the Space Park; providing a national hub for space research, learning, public engagement and innovation. This is set to deliver around 600 jobs and support up to 100 businesses, making a major contribution to the productivity challenge facing the city of Leicester.
£1million for the extension of the National Space Centre to support it to continue to be the leading visitor attraction for space science and astronomy and to build its capacity to deliver science workshops for schools and deliver learning and apprenticeships in space engineering.
£12million for junction and road improvements to the M1/J23 and A512 which will unlock significant land for new homes and employment by supporting the new Loughborough and Leicester Enterprise Zone sites in Loughborough –Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park and Charnwood Campus
Nick Pulley, chair of the LLEP said “We put in a sizeable bid for Growth Deal Funding last year and have been working hard to stress the importance of receiving funding in the LLEP area to boost growth of the LLEP economy.
“The LLEP boasts an excellent track record having secured over £100 million through the first two Growth Deal rounds, investing in projects such as the Leicester College’s Skills and Innovation Village.”
“The £25.87 million Growth Deal allocation we will be receiving in this round will be split between the Space Park and Junction 23 of the M1. Both are both poised to start straight away and we will now be working with our partners to ensure that this welcome investment is allocated as swiftly as possible.”
City mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby said, “We have ambitious plans for Pioneer Park and the area around the National Space Centre, and this announcement is a very welcome endorsement of those plans.”
“Funding for the proposed Space Park is exciting news and it’s a reflection of the University of Leicester’s expertise in space science and physics, and testament to the success of the space centre.
"This allocation of nearly £13 million from the Local Growth Fund will allow us to invest in the infrastructure we need to support enterprise and create jobs in this key business investment area in the north of the city.”
Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “We welcome this significant investment which will enable considerable improvements to be made to the road network on and around junction 23 of the M1 at Loughborough.
“This should help reap huge economic benefits for the area. It means we can ensure there is the necessary infrastructure to support the building of 4,000 homes and potentially provide access to more than 5,700 jobs, including those created through the Loughborough and Leicester Enterprise Zone.
Professor Paul Boyle, president & vice-chancellor of the University of Leicester said: ‘‘This is tremendously exciting and transformative news. From the life sciences to R&D supporting investment in energy, space and satellite technologies, Leicestershire is emerging at the forefront of UK research. The Space Park is going to have a huge impact on the city and region – and it will be nationally important.
“The Space Park will allow integration of training, skills, research and working with business on a new level. We also want to make sure it is global in its significance – we will have a whole range of international partners. Our researchers are already working with many businesses and institutes across the world –we will embed these partnerships within the Space Park. It is going to be a complete international endeavour.’
Chas Bishop, CEO of the National Space Centre said, “The National Space Centre’s visitor numbers have grown by 50% in the past five years and it currently employs 170 people across its three businesses: far more than was ever envisaged when its iconic building was first designed.
“The planned extension will accommodate growing school, family and corporate visitors with world class presentations, temporary exhibitions and facilities that reflect our ever-increasing fascination with space and its ability to help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers from all areas of society.
“News of support from the Local Growth Fund is wonderful: this project further enhances Leicester and Leicestershire’s place on the world stage as a centre of excellence for space science and STEM skills development.”